Dogs are much like humans when it comes to experiencing the chronic disease of diabetes in dogs. The earlier you notice the symptoms and diagnose the issue, the better you’ll be able to manage your pup’s long-term care. There is no cure, but there are treatments to make sure your dog stays as healthy as possible.
What Is Diabetes in Dogs?
Diabetes occurs when your dog’s glucose-insulin connection isn’t functioning properly for one of two reasons. The first form of diabetes in dogs can be known as insulin-deficiency diabetes, in which your pup’s body isn’t producing enough insulin because of damage or malfunction from the pancreas. This is the most common form of diabetes in dogs, and treatment requires daily shots to supplement the lack of insulin.
The other form of diabetes is insulin-resistance diabetes, and this is when the pancreas is producing insulin, but the body doesn’t utilize or distribute that insulin properly. Glucose isn’t being pulled out of the blood and into the cells because the cells aren’t responding to the insulin’s “message.” This is the kind of diabetes that occurs more often in older dogs.
The effect of both of these types of diabetes is the same—it leads to sugar build-up in the dog’s bloodstream in a way that your dog’s cells, which need that sugar, can’t access.
Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
In the early stages, diabetes may exhibit itself through symptoms like excessive thirst, increased urination, weight loss, or increased appetite. The more advanced signs include a loss of appetite, lack of energy, depression, or vomiting. If your dog has diabetes, he may only exhibit some of these symptoms.
Risk Factors for Diabetes in Dogs
There are a number of factors which may increase your dog’s chance of developing diabetes. Diabetes in dogs occurs more often during middle to late age, though it can occur at any stage of life. Females who are unspayed are two times more likely to develop diabetes than males. Genetics plays a role in either increased or decreased risk, though breed does not, and other health conditions may increase the chances of your dog developing it, including:
- Chronic or repeated pancreatitis
- Cushing’s disease
- Long-term use of steroid medications
- Some autoimmune disorders
- Some viral diseases
Managing Diabetes in Dogs
Although diabetes in dogs is a chronic disease, measures can be taken to help moderate the symptoms your dog experiences. Whether that means giving daily insulin injections, monitoring glucose levels, or changing certain lifestyle habits, your pup should be able to manage life with this condition. Your veterinarian can best work with you to create a plan for managing diabetes in your dog, which will likely include a combination of medication, diet, exercise, and home monitoring.
It’s important that your pup maintains a healthy lifestyle with diabetes, including feeding your pup a nutritious, relatively low-fat diet, plenty of exercise, and possible injections of insulin. Contact your vet to best support your dog’s diabetes.